I first visited the Scottish Solway in 1979 on a twitch from London for a drake King Eider on Loch Ryan. We saw the eider plus loads of other stuff: huge rafts of Scaup, Black Guillemots, Slavonian and Black-necked Grebes, Long-tailed Duck, etc, etc. We spent the whole weekend up there taking in the Loch Ken area (Greenland Whitefronted Geese) and Caerlaverock (loads of Barnacle Geese), as well as Golden Eagle and Crossbills in the Galloway Forest. I didn't return for several years until we scampered across the country from a White-billed Diver at Hartlepool for a Long-billed Dowitcher at Caerlaverock WWT. Once again though the sheer numbers of birds struck me during our short stay on the Solway. Since the late Eighties I've been up a few times a year with my family, "slipping out" for birding whenever possible. Highlights have included another King Eider and Pale-bellied Brent Geese at Loch Ryan, Hen Harriers on the Mull of Galloway, Great Grey Shrike at Caelaverock and Taverner's and Richardson's Canada Geese on the Nith. This year there was the White-tailed Plover of course.
Well, that's why we've now got ourselves a base up there, close to our favourite stretch of coastline on the Solway at Southerness Point. Summer days can be pretty quiet birdwise but dark morph Arctic Skua on the beach between Southerness and Mersehead a couple of weeks ago was nice. Last weekend we spent some time settling in to our hideaway but a stroll along the beach at Southerness at high tide produced 40+ Sandwich Terns, adult Arctic Tern and 3 Great crested Grebes offshore. At the point itself there were some 70+ Ringed Plovers with smaller numbers of Dunlin, a couple of Golden Plover and a Common Sand'.
Yesterday morning we walked from Southerness to Mersehead RSPB. It was pretty quiet with a juv' Arctic Tern, a pack of 30+ Knot and a couple of Wheatears on the beach. Mersehead RSPB was predictably quiet (it's really a winter birding site), but by the time we visit again next month I dare say the first "Barnies" will be in.
Roll on the Autumn!